The Rest of the West


The Broncos are currently tied for 2nd place in the AFC West with an 0-1 record. Fortunately for them (and us, as fans), the rest of the AFC West seems to have just as many question marks as the Broncos. During the offseason, we would hear whispers - and sometimes shouts - of what the AFC West teams might do or what they could do. Well, we have one game under our belt and finally have some concrete film to sink our teeth into. 

The AFC West is just as unpredictable as always. The San Diego Chargers are down, the Kansas City Chiefs are up and the Oakland Raiders are.... well, they are the Raiders.

The Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs_medium 

Last Week

The Chiefs are 1-0 for the first time since 2005. In that year, the Broncos went to the AFC Championship Game. Makes you wonder...

Anyways, last week the Chiefs scored the upset victory of the week. They were the beneficiary of a wet night, an intense home crowd in a brand new stadium, and outstanding production from young players like Javier Arenas and Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs beat the Chargers 21 to 14.

To be honest, their offense wasn't spectacular. They only amassed 197 yards of total offense and were 1 for 11 on third downs. That's just terrible. They were fortunate in that they scored on special teams and were able to have a couple of big plays but they don't look to be a consistent offense, right now. It will be interesting to see if they can be a more consistent offense in the coming weeks.

Something that did stand out to me was the Chiefs defense. What a statement they made in the fourth quarter with that goal line stand. That was purely outstanding. The Chiefs opened the New Arrowhead Stadium with a grand performance, but the key element in keeping the Chiefs at the top of the division, as I mentioned earlier, will be developing a consistent offense. Big plays can win games, but they can't be counted upon every week to win every game. There has to be some consistency.

Notable Injuries

The biggest name on this list is obviously Tyson Jackson. At this point in the week, it is tough to say whether or not he would play, but the Chiefs are definitely more complete with him coming after the quarterback.

KC Injuries
Tyson Jackson DE Knee Did Not Participate In Practice
Wallace Gilberry DE Back Limited Participation in Practice
Tamba Hali LB Foot Limited Participation in Practice
Ryan O'Callaghan T Groin Limited Participation in Practice

This week

Next up for the Chiefs is the Cleveland Browns. After beating the Chargers, it will be a major step backwards if they can't come out of this week with their 2nd victory of the season. The Browns couldn't beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, which I think speaks volumes of their team. Peyton Hillis fumbled twice and Jake Delhomme threw 2 interceptions. The game could be fun to watch, though, if Cribbs and Arenas go back and forth with outstanding special teams plays. 

I fully expect the Chiefs to run wild on the Browns. Expect a lot of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones in this one, although Cassel could impress people against the Browns secondary, as well. The Browns did allow 2 TD passes from Josh Freeman last week.

I'm not quite ready to say that the chiefs have fully arrived as playoff contenders and I don't think that any result from this game will be able to sway my opinion one way or the other. The Browns just aren't an opponent that measures up well to anyone, so I'm reluctant to take an overwhelming Chiefs win as evidence that they are vastly improved since last season. I will, however, be watching the chiefs very intently over the next few weeks to see if they can keep things going in a positive direction. Are they for real? Time will tell.

 

The San Diego Chargers

 

Chargers_medium 

Last week

On the flip-side, the Chargers lost against the Chiefs. Philip Rivers looked very frustrated. We already addressed a little bit of their game in the Chiefs section above, but the biggest debate concerning the Chargers week 1 game was whether or not they are still the same old Chargers. Are they an underachieving team that will turn it on after a few weeks like they have in the past or are they just average? Has their "window closed"? It's tough to say after one week. It is definitely something to ponder as the losses start to pile up, though.

I just wonder what the preseason hype was about. The Chargers, at this point, don't look like a playoff team, let alone a Super Bowl team. Darren Sproles was nonexistant, Philip Rivers looked out of sync with his receivers, they couldn't stop Jamaal Charles, their special teams couldn't stop Javier Arenas, their pass rush couldn't get consistent pressure on Matt Cassel (which has proven easy to do over the past year), and their offense couldn't put points on the board despite gaining 389 yards. They were 27% on 3rd downs, which isn't nearly as bad as the Chiefs 9% 3rd down completion percentage. The bottom line is that the Chargers have a long way to go if they want to get back in the playoffs in 2010.

Notable Injuries

Long-snapper David Binn has been placed on Injured Reserve and will miss the remainder of the 2010 season with a hamstring injury. The guys at Bolts From the Blue think that this is a much bigger deal for their special teams than is being talked about. David was recently been named a Special Teams captain (for the 1st time), is the longest-tenured Chargers player and, according to Bolts from the Blue, might just be

the greatest long-snapper in the history of the position

That is some high praise, especially for a guy I had never heard of before.  So, if you're watching the game next week and see a bad snap... now, you know why.

SD Injuries
Stephen Cooper LB Knee Did Not Participate In Practice
Jacob Hester RB Foot Limited Participation in Practice
Shawne Merriman LB Achilles Limited Participation in Practice


This week

The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be the standard measuring stick of the AFC West. The Chargers will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego during week 2. The Jags just finished playing the Broncos last week, so it will be interesting to see how they play against the Chargers. 

The Chargers had trouble against Kansas City's special teams unit last week. The Jags were no slouches, though, during week 1. With their returns, they amassed 166 yards returning. If San Diego can't slow down Tiquan Underwood, it could be another frustrating day for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. 

Another area of concern for the Chargers is their run defense. Last week, the Chiefs busted some huge gains on the ground with Jamaal Charles. The Jacksonville Jaguars present a different obstacle with Maurice Jones-Drew. He is arguably the most complete back in the league. Not only is he quick and tough to bring down, he also possesses great hands that make him a solid receiver out of the backfield. San Diego could have their hands full if MJD gets lose. MJD is likely to be hungry for the endzone, as well, as he is still eying his first TD of the season.

 

 

The Oakland Raiders
Raiders_medium

Last Week

The Raiders lost to the Tennessee Titans 38 to 13. If you watched the game, it was barely that close. The Raiders were absolutely embarrassed on the road in Tennessee. The only thing that worked on Sunday was their running game. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they were so far behind that the running game was mitigated in favor of the passing attack. The Raiders were 3 for 14 on third down. Yes... 3 for 14 on third down.

The Titans were 8 for 15 on third downs. They also ran for 205 yards on 35 carries (5.3 ypc). The Raiders weren't too shabby on the ground (135 yards on 25 carries which is 5.4 ypc). However, they also lost a fumble and threw an interception. What should worry the Raiders fans more than anything else is the shocking 4 fumbles during the game. They ended up recovering 3 of their fumbles, but having 4 fumbles in a game should scare you. I always thought that having Jason Campbell as my QB would be scary enough but the Raiders are just finding all kinds of new ways to lose games, despite the preseason chatter that claimed the Raiders would be a .500 team... or better.

Notable Injuries

Lots and lots of names on this list, but since it is so early in the week it is hard to determine which of these names actually mean anything. What I did find was an article that said Robert Gallery may not play

Nnamdi Asomugha CB Groin Did Not Participate In Practice
Hiram Eugene S Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice
Robert Gallery G Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice
Travis Goethel LB Back Did Not Participate In Practice
Chris Johnson CB Neck Did Not Participate In Practice
Walter McFadden CB Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice
Chaz Schilens WR Knee Did Not Participate In Practice
Richard Seymour DE Hamstring Did Not Participate In Practice
Desmond Bryant DT Elbow Full Participation in Practice
Michael Bush RB Thumb Full Participation in Practice

This Week

In week 2, the Raiders will play the St. Louis Rams. The Rams lost to the Arizona Cardinals last week, but the Rams didn't appear to be pushovers as in years past. They will sling the rock with Sam Bradford but that doesn't mean that the Rams aren't happy to hand the ball off to Stephen Jackson when they get a chance. Stephen Jackson has been the Rams offense for years and I don't expect that to change in 2010. Now, keep in mind that Stephen Jackson is listed on the injury report for the Rams and was held out of practice on Wednesday. However, reports are saying that it was purely cautionary and that he is expected to play on Sunday.

Time will tell if the Raiders can find their offense and defense in 2010. They added a bunch of pieces in the offseason but it remains to be seen if guys like Rolando McClain or Lamarr Houston can step up. Although their defense has some questions yet to be answered, I think they stand a good chance of showing off their running game against the Rams. The reason being because the Rams probably won't get out to a huge early lead like the Titans did. If it's a fairly close game or the Raiders have a lead, expect to see a heavy dose of Michael Bush, if he plays, and Darren McFadden

Can the Raiders Defense stop Stephen Jackson and the rookie Sam Bradford? That remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how the Raiders talented secondary can fare against an inexperienced quarterback in Sam Bradford. Will Bradford struggle or will the Rams decide to use a bit more Stephen Jackson than they did in week 1?

 

There you have it, MHR. That is the rest of the West. Keeping track of the Raiders so you don't have to.

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